Well, this is it. The first official open thread of the offseason. Got another hundred or so of these to go before pitchers and catchers report in mid-February. I haven’t the slightest idea what the Yankees will look like by then.
Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Bengals and Dolphins are the Thursday NFL game, plus the Rangers and Knicks are playing as well. Talk about any of that and more right here. Go nuts.
As I mentioned this morning, eligible players officially became free agents at 9am ET this morning. They still have to wait five days to sign with new teams, however. The MLBPA released a list of all 147 free agents this afternoon, which you can check out right here. Among those 147 players are 13 Yankees: Robinson Cano, Joba Chamberlain, Curtis Granderson, Travis Hafner, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, Boone Logan, Lyle Overbay, Andy Pettitte, Mark Reynolds, Mariano Rivera, Brendan Ryan, and Kevin Youkilis.
There are currently 28 players on the 40-man roster, though Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Corban Joseph, Jayson Nix, Francisco Cervelli, and CC Sabathia all have to be activated off the 60-day DL by Monday. So, in reality, there are 34 players on the 40-man. · (11) ·
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with a bullpen stalwart and one of the most undeserved punching bags in recent Yankees history (I’m guilty).
Given all the money they’ve spent over the years, it’s pretty obvious the Yankees value having a quality left-handed reliever in the bullpen. And they should. The AL East is full of powerful lefty bats, from David Ortiz to Chris Davis to Colby Rasmus to … uh … James Loney. Once upon a time they had to deal with guys like Carlos Pena and Carlos Delgado as well. It definitely makes sense for New York to have that shutdown southpaw. For the fourth straight year, Boone Logan was that guy.
Fittingly, Logan’s season was book-ended by elbow problems. He was on the 2013 Yankees, after all. The team took it easy on him in Spring Training — Logan only appeared in four Grapefruit League games, less than half what a regular big league reliever usually makes — because of a tender elbow, which likely had something to do with his a) career-high 55.1 innings and league-leading 80 appearances in 2012, and b) extreme slider usage (51.4% in 2012 and 44.8% from 2011-2012). Lots of appearances — not to mention all the times he warmed up but didn’t get into the game — and lots of sliders are usually bad for the elbow.
Despite the elbow issue, Logan was his usual self for most of the regular season. He had his first notable meltdown on May 5th and even that was just a solo homer by MVP candidate/right-handed batter Josh Donaldson to break a tie in the eighth inning. Logan allowed only three runs between that game and the All-Star break, striking out 26 and walking three (one intentionally) in 16.1 innings across 27 appearances. He was dominating both lefties (.189/.225/.324, 50.0 K%) and righties (.190/.217/.333, 26.1 K%).
Logan hit a rough patch in mid-August, allowing four runs on four base-runners in one full inning of work across two appearances against the Angels. He allowed one run in nine appearances going into that stretch and followed with seven straight scoreless outings. It was just a hiccup. When August came to an end, Logan had a 2.68 ERA and 3.51 FIP in 37 innings across 56 appearances. Lefties hit .230/.266/.392 with a 38.8% strikeout rate against him during the first five months of the 2013 season. A little too much power (three homers), but fine overall.
For all intents and purposes, Logan’s season came to an end on September 6th. That was the game in which he inherited a bases loaded situation and allowed the grand slam to Mike Napoli. I know you remember that game. He left that game with what was originally called tightness in his biceps, and subsequent tests showed only inflammation. Logan received a cortisone shot and started a throwing program, but he didn’t improve and headed to see Dr. James Andrews. Andrews found a bone spur in Boone’s pitching elbow. He was given the okay to continue pitching but Joe Girardi only used him once more that season: on September 24th, when he struck out the only man he faced (Sam Fuld).
Logan ended the season having thrown 39 innings across 61 appearances, posting a 3.23 ERA and 3.82 FIP overall. Obviously his primary job was to neutralize lefties and he did that, limiting same-side hitters to a .215/.274/.377 (.281 wOBA) line with very good to great strikeout (14.57 K/9 and 40.0 K%), walk (2.57 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), and ground ball (44.2%) rates. Among left-handed pitchers, only Clayton Kershaw (41.5%) had a higher strikeout rate against lefty batters this summer (min. 20 IP). In the quirky stat department, Logan led all relievers in appearances in which he struck out every batter he faced this year with 12. Kinda cool, I guess.
Homeruns were a bit of a problem for Logan this summer, as he allowed a career-high seven dingers in those 39 innings (1.62 HR/9). That’s a lot of homers even for Yankee Stadium, especially for a pitcher with a very good 47.3% ground ball rate overall. His 20.0% HR/FB ratio was more than double the 9.3% HR/FB ratio he posted during his first three years in pinstripes. The long ball spike could be due to a number of things, including the elbow issue that he acknowledged had been bothering him all year. The homers were a bit of a bugaboo this summer.
Logan had surgery to remove the bone spur right after the season and is expected to both start throwing again in December and be ready in time for Spring Training. He will become a free agent in the coming days and has already expressed an interest in returning to the New York, though it’s unclear if the feeling is mutual. The Yankees are trimming payroll and lefty reliever sure seems like a potential spot to save money. Either way, Logan capped off a rather successful four-year stint in pinstripes with another very good performance this year. He has been, by far, the team’s best left-handed reliever since Mike Stanton.
Via George King: Brian Cashman confirmed there is still no update on the status of Joe Girardi’s coaching staff. Girardi signed a new deal a few weeks ago, but all of his coaches’ contracts expire at midnight tonight. “I wouldn’t say [what's going to happen], once the deals are done we will put out a release. I won’t say until it’s done,” said the GM.
The Yankees reportedly agreed to a new contract with pitching coach Larry Rothschild two weeks ago, but there haven’t been any updates and nothing has been made official. It’s been rumored that hitting coach Kevin Long could leave to join close friend Don Mattingly, either with the Dodgers or elsewhere if he winds up with another team. Third base coach Rob Thomson and Tony Pena seem to interview for managerial openings every winter (Thomson has already been connected to the Mariners). Bullpen coach Mike Harkey is one of Girardi’s closest friends and confidants, and he’s expected to return. Have to think this stuff will be taken care of relatively soon. · (2) ·
The Red Sox beat the Cardinals to win the World Series last night, meaning the offseason is now underway. At 9am ET this morning, all eligible players officially became free agents. Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain et al technically are not Yankees right now. They’re aren’t anything. They’re unemployed. They can’t sign with new teams just yet, but they’re not Yankees either.
Now that the offseason has started, I figured it was worth putting together a list of important dates. There are a lot of them, some more important than others. Here’s a look at what lies ahead in the coming weeks and months:
- Next Monday, Nov. 4th: Deadline to make free agents a one-year, $14.1M qualifying offer and also the deadline for option decisions. The Yankees need to hear from Derek Jeter about his $9.5M player option for 2014 (still no word) and they’ll make the qualifying offer to Cano and Kuroda. Maybe some others.
- Next Tuesday, Nov. 5th: End of the exclusive negotiating period. As of 12:01am ET, free agents can negotiate and sign with new teams.
- Nov. 11th: Last day for free agents to accept or reject qualifying offers. Players who reject will net their team a supplemental first round draft pick if they sign elsewhere.
- Nov. 5-14th: Awards season. The announcements are spread out to keep people interested.
- Nov. 11-13th: GM Meetings in Orlando. Not a ton of exciting stuff happens at these — a bunch of rumors and maybe a transaction or two, but these meetings deal mostly with business items.
- Nov. 20th: Deadline to set rosters for the Rule 5 Draft. OF Slade Heathcott and C Gary Sanchez are the team’s most notable Rule 5 Draft eligible players. They have to be added to the 40-man roster.
- Dec. 2nd: Deadline for clubs to offer contracts to players with less than six full years of service time, otherwise known as the non-tender deadline. A fresh new batch of free agents will hit the market on this day. Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart are New York’s most notable non-tender candidates.
- Dec. 9th: Last day to open a 40-man roster spot(s) prior to the Rule 5 Draft. Teams without open spots can not make any picks.
- Dec. 9-12th: Winter Meetings in Orlando. All hell breaks loose during the first three days (the fourth day is kind of a bore). There will be rumors and trades and signings galore. Most of the biggest offseason moves will happen here.
- Dec. 12th: Rule 5 Draft. This is the unofficial end of the Winter Meetings — everyone leaves after the draft is over, the place turns into a ghost town — and the start of what amounts to a holiday recess. Baseball news tends to slow to a crawl after this date and usually doesn’t pick back up until January.
- January: Deadline for each side to submit arbitration filing figures. Eligible players submit one salary, the team another. The exact date is unknown but it’s usually in the middle of the month. The Yankees have seven arbitration-eligible players, most notably David Robertson, Brett Gardner, and Ivan Nova.
- February: Arbitration hearings throughout the month. The two sides can agree to a contract at any point prior to the hearing, even after submitting figures. The Yankees haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang in February 2008.
- Mid-February: Pitchers and catchers report to Tampa.
It’s also worth noting that at some point before March 10th, the Yankees have to send someone to the Mariners as the player the be named later in the Brendan Ryan trade. I wouldn’t expect it to be a significant (or even an actual) prospect and the deal will probably be completed long before that date. Should happen relatively soon. Just a loose end that needs to be tied up.
Jeter’s option decision is the most immediate and pressing item for the Yankees. I expect him to exercise it after what even he called a nightmare season. It’ll also be interesting to see how the club weighs potential draft picks against staying under the $189M luxury tax threshold when they make (or don’t make) qualifying offers. Are they willing to risk getting saddled with a player they don’t want/can’t afford? Considering all the money the team has coming off the books and the overall disappointment of 2013, I expect this to be one of the busiest offseasons in the Bronx in a long time. I just have no idea what to expect.
I’ve said this probably a million times on this site, but everyone in my family is a Mets fan except for me and my grandfather. I spent most of my formative years watching the Mets and at Shea Stadium, and as a result I became quite the Darryl Strawberry fan. Still am, really. He was me all-time favorite player until recently, when Mariano Rivera took over the throne. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Straw wound up in pinstripes. That three-homer game against the White Sox was the awesomest thing ever. Too bad I can’t find video anywhere. Oh well.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Red Sox have a chance to clinch the World Series title with a win over the Cardinals in Game Six at 8pm ET on FOX (John Lackey vs. Michael Wacha). The Knicks and Nets are playing their season openers as well. You folks know out this works by now, so have at it.
Via Larry Neumeister: MLB’s lawyers have sent a former letter to U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield requesting that the lawsuit filed by Alex Rodriguez’s legal team be thrown out. A-Rod’s camp filed the suit claiming the league is conducting a “witch hunt” to get him out of baseball. Apparently there is a Labor Management Relations Act issue depending on whether the case is heard in state or federal court. I’m not exactly sure what’s better for whom. Proceedings for the suit are scheduled to begin in early-November. Remember, this is completely different matter than A-Rod’s appeal of his 211-game suspension. · (4) ·
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with the replacement level replacement first baseman.
The Yankees acquired their 2013 starting first baseman with only six days to go in Spring Training. Mark Teixeira suffered a wrist injury in early-March and at the time he was expected back in mid-May, so the team only needed a stopgap for six weeks or so. The Red Sox gave their lefty bench bat spot to Mike Carp and cut Lyle Overbay loose with a week to go in camp, which is when New York pounced. He was the best available option.
Much like most of the team’s veteran retread pick-ups, the 36-year-old Overbay was quite productive for the first 50 or so games of the season. He wasn’t exactly hitting for average or getting on-base, but Lyle hit for a surprising amount of power and had a knack for big, late-inning hits. During an 86 plate appearances stretch in early-to-mid-May, Overbay hit .269/.318/.526 with eight doubles and four homers while pacing Robinson Cano for the team lead in runs driven in. Many of those runs he plated came in crucial situations:
- April 28th: Two-run homer against R.A. Dickey to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead in the seven inning.
- May 10th: Overbay went 4-for-5 with five runs driven in against the Royals, including a sixth inning run-scoring double that broke the tie and gave the Yankees the lead.
- May 20th: Solo homer against Orioles lefty Troy Patton to break the tie and give New York a lead in seventh inning lead.
- May 25th: A solo homer off Rays righty Josh Lueke gave the Yankees the lead in the 11th inning.
- May 28th: Broke a scoreless tie with a run-scoring single against Matt Harvey.
From the start of the season through the game with that single against Harvey, Overbay managed a robust 0.928 WPA, meaning he chipped in close to a full win of value with timely hits despite having a mediocre .251 average overall. His numbers with runners in scoring position (.268/.367/.415 in 49 plate appearances) were okay but he was a monster in situations defined as “close and late” (.286/.407/.714 in 27 PA), though sample size caveats apply. “Close and late” plate appearances come in the seventh inning or later with a one-run lead or the tying run at least on deck, plus anything in between.
Overbay played well enough in the first two months that even after Teixeira returned from his wrist injury at the end of May, the Yankees kept his bat in the lineup by sticking him in right field, a position he had not played since rookie ball in 1999. The right field experiment lasted four games and was mostly a disaster defensively. Well, not mostly. It was an outright disaster. No one could blame Overbay though, the team was desperate for offense and he was one of their most productive players, so Joe Girardi & Co. did what they had to do to help the team win.
Teixeira re-injured his wrist during a series against the Angels in mid-June and eventually needed season-ending surgery, allowing Overbay to reclaim the first base job outright. He hit an acceptable .266/.346/.415 with five doubles and three homers in 28 games between Teixeira’s injury and the All-Star break, which was fine production for an offensively starved team. Overbay carried a .251/.307/.436 (101 wRC+) batting line into the break. He was also playing strong defense, which is pretty much his calling card.
The second half is when things went really south. Because Kevin Youkilis was hurt in addition to Teixeira, the Yankees did not have a proper right-handed platoon partner for Overbay. He was out there everyday, against righties and lefties, and it completely exposed his weakness against southpaws. It also might have worn him down physically. Lyle closed out the month of July by going 10-for-42 (.238) with no walks, three doubles, and a homer (.381 SLG) in 12 games.
August was slightly better — .250/.307/.324 (72 wRC+) in 20 games — though he did have a stretch of 18 straight plate appearances without a hit towards the end of the month. September was just brutal — .163/.250/.245 (36 wRC+) line in 20 games — and by the middle of the month he’d lost his starting job to Mark Reynolds, even sitting against righties. Overbay started just ten of the team’s final 19 games and four of their final eleven games. He’d hit his way out of the lineup.
That .251/.307/.436 (101 wRC+) batting line in the first half was broken down into .272/.330/.485 against righties (224 plate appearances) and .198/.247/.309 (89 plate appearances against lefties). Overbay hit just .220/.272/.314 (58 wRC+) in the second half, including .234/.292/.339 (137 plate appearances) against righties and .171/.194/.229 (36 plate appearances) against lefties. His overall season batting line was .240/.295/.393 (93 wRC+) with a huge platoon split: .258/.316/.430 (103 wRC+) against righties and .190/.232/.284 (35 wRC+) against southpaws.
Overbay is perfectly symbolic of the 2013 Yankees. He was asked to be play everyday and hit near the middle of the order after being cast aside by a contender because they didn’t even have a spot for him on the bench. The only reason he got the job was because the Yankees don’t have any internal solutions for, well, almost anything. Lyle did an admirable job in the first half of the season and had a bunch of big hits, but his performance was below-average overall and well-below-average compared to the typical first baseman. Stepping in after being signed less than a week before the start of the season is not easy, but Overbay was a net negative in 2013 and the very definition of replacement level (0.0 fWAR, 0.2 bWAR).
Via Buster Olney: The Angels have expressed a willingness to trade Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo for pitching help as they look to revamp their staff. Right now their rotation is Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Jerome Williams, and Joe Blanton. Obviously they want to upgrade at least the last two and maybe the last three spots.
Bourjos, 26, has missed a bunch of time due to wrist problems these last two years. The defensive whiz is a career .251/.306/.398 (103 wRC+) hitter in a little more than 1,100 plate appearances over the last four years. He is fast enough to theoretically steal bases even though he hasn’t done much of it in the big leagues (41-for-54, 76%). The 27-year-old Trumbo is a career .250/.299/.469 (111 wRC+) hitter who has whacked at least 29 homers in each of his three full seasons. He’s developed a reputation for being a notorious first half player (career 130 wRC+) who disappears after the break (86 wRC+).
The Yankees have enough speedy, no power, defense first outfielders on their roster, so Bourjos makes little sense. Trumbo is a much better fit as long as the club thinks he can adequately play the outfield. I don’t think breaking the bank for another first base/DH type is a wise move. Trumbo has almost a thousand career innings in the outfield and New York could try to hide him in tiny right field. His kind of righty power is hard to fine, even though it comes with a miniscule OBP. The problem is that unless the Angels really like David Phelps or Adam Warren, the Yankees don’t have any pitching to trade them. Not a good trade match here. · (36) ·
One way or another, the 2013 baseball season will be over within the next 48 hours. It could end as soon as tonight. Once it does, a couple hundred players will become free agents and the offseason officially gets underway. There is a five-day waiting period before players can negotiate and sign with new teams, but a lot happens in those five days. Specifically, teams must decide whether to tender qualifying offers to their top free agents.
The qualifying offer system is rather simple. This winter it is a one-year contract worth $14.1M, and if you make the offer to an impending free agent, you are entitled to a supplemental first round draft pick if he rejects and signs elsewhere. If he accepts, then he’s back on your team at that price. The Yankees will surely make Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda qualifying offers — the $14.1M actually represents a pay cut for both — but not others like Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan. Only super-elite relievers get paid that much.
Guys like Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Brendan Ryan won’t receive a qualifying offer for obvious reasons. There’s also no need to extend an offer to either Mariano Rivera or Andy Pettitte since both are retiring. Even if they do have a sudden change of heart and decide to pitch next year, the $14.1M price would be a bit steep. As much as the Yankees would love Pettitte and/or Rivera to return, they also don’t want either accepting the offer and blowing up their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold.
Two players are on the qualifying offer fence: Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. They’re on the fence for different reasons, obviously. There’s a case to be made for extending the $14.1M tender to both guys and a case to me made for not making the offer at all, so let’s make them.
The Case For: Before an injury-plagued 2013 season, Granderson was one of the game’s premier power hitters. His 84 homers between 2011 and 2012 were the most in baseball, and during those two seasons he hit .247/.342/.522 (131 wRC+) while playing in 316 of 324 possible games. Granderson is still only 32 (he’ll turn 33 in March), so he’s not yet at an age when you’d expect him to start a significant decline. The Yankees were power-starved last season so even if Granderson accepts, he would go a long way towards correcting that problem.
The Case Against: Curtis was limited to only 61 games this past season due to a pair of fluky hit-by-pitch injuries, pitches that broke bones in his right forearm and left hand. When he was healthy late in the year, he only managed a .229/.317/.407 (97 wRC+) batting line and only seven homers, so he didn’t show his usual power. It could have been the result of the hand/arm injuries or it could have been signs of decline. Granderson has always struck out a ton (26.5% even during 2011-2012) and he doesn’t have a ton of defensive value, even in a corner spot. I think we can all agree the one-year aspect would be great, but the $14.1M price might be a tad pricey.
The Case For: Pitching is hard to find, man. Tim Lincecum landed a two-year deal worth $17.5M annually despite pitching to a 4.76 ERA (3.95 FIP) over the last two years. Hughes, who is two full years younger than Lincecum, had a 4.65 ERA (4.53 FIP) over the last two years in a much tougher ballpark and division. That isn’t to say he’s worth the same annual salary (or more) than Lincecum, just that Timmy’s deal might encourage him to explore the open market. Hughes will be the youngest free agent starting pitcher by far and his ability to get ahead in the count — only Cliff Lee has thrown a higher percentage of first pitch strikes these last two years — could have a pitching savvy team thinking he’s a new grip or some tinkering away from being a frontline starter with his (theoretical) prime years still to come. Even if he were willing to take a one-year contract in an effort to improve his stock before going back out in the market next year, Yankee Stadium and the AL East is not the place he’d do it. At his age, there are plenty of reasons for Phil to want to explore the free agency.
The Case Against: Hughes has been pretty terrible these last two years, especially in 2013. He had a 5.19 ERA (4.50 FIP) overall and a 6.65 ERA (4.57 FIP) in the second half. Phil only threw 145.2 innings across 29 starts (and one relief appearance) because he led baseball with 14 starts of fewer than five full innings. Barry Zito was a distant second with ten. His fly ball tendencies are an awful fit for Yankee Stadium and even if you think he’s ready to turn the corner and break out, $14.1M is a very steep price to pay. That kind of salary is reserved for sure thing starters, not projects. Even if Hughes were to find a multi-year contract offer this winter, it’s possible he wouldn’t be guaranteed that much money total. Phil could take the money, hope to either rebound or get traded to a team with a ballpark that better suits his skillset, then go back out on the market next year, when he’ll still only be 28. A pitcher coming off this kind of season could very easily decide to take the money, which would severely impact the team’s payroll situation heading into 2014.
* * *
If Granderson and Hughes had typical Granderson and Hughes seasons — for Phil I think that means repeating 2012 (4.23 ERA and 4.56 FIP in 191.1 innings) — then making both guys the qualifying offer would be a no-brainer. Especially Granderson. That isn’t the case through, and now the Yankees are left with a difficult decision to make for both guys. How much do they value potential compensation draft picks compared to financial flexibility and having a better chance to stay under the luxury tax? That’s the question they have to answer within five days of the end of the World Series.
Should the Yankees make Granderson or Hughes a qualifying offer?
Should the Yankees make Granderson or Hughes a qualifying offer?